RWI Partner Gives 5 Tips for Effective Advocacy

Country: Africa, Tanzania
Facebook logoTwitter logo

When RWI launched its parliamentary project in Tanzania, it found a civil society ally with Policy Forum. Based in Dar Es Salaam, Policy Forum is a network of more than 100 nonprofits united by their interest in influencing policies to reduce poverty and promote equity and democratization.

Rich with gold, diamonds and other minerals, Tanzania’s mining sector accounted for 75 percent of foreign direct investment and 40 percent of the country’s exports in 2008, yet only contributed 3.6 percent of tax revenues and 2.7 percent of gross domestic product.  Our partnership with Policy Forum helped Tanzania pass a fair, responsible 2010 Mining Act, become compliant under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and reduce loopholes in taxation and royalties to help the nation increase its mineral revenues.

Policy Forum’s advocacy efforts have continued to impress and inspire its partners throughout Tanzania and around the world. One publication in particular, Parliamentary Advocacy in the Extractive Industries: An Illustrative Guide for Civil Society, has been a huge hit. The manual takes a simplified, storytelling approach to advocacy using clear, concise language and illustrations that take into account the different educational backgrounds of those working on advocacy issues in cities and villages throughout the country.

Policy Forum coordinator Semkae Kilonzo said the goal was to create a tool that would not only help civil society interested in parliamentary advocacy in Tanzania, but also inspire those in other countries doing the same kind of work.  

“We wanted to move away from the usual guides that give many tips but use various unrelated examples,” said Kilonzo. “We also wanted to share the fact that we encountered numerous challenges; it wasn't a simple matter of applying the tips and having everything fall in place. And, of course, we wanted to create a publication that people would actually read, so we kept it short!”

Below, Kilonzo offers a few pointers for fellow civil society interested in creating similar guides to further their advocacy.

1. Keep things simple. Make your guide or manual short and concise using simple, clear language. This will increase the likelihood it will not only be read in its entirety, but also easily understood by readers of different backgrounds. If you need to use technical language, make sure to have a glossary at the end of the manual to define and explain the terminology.
2. Tell a story. Narration of an actual experience can be useful when you have several different tips to share. Weaving tips throughout a narrative with actual incidents works better than giving several of them using unrelated examples. The story anchors the helpful hints in the manual coherently. Stories also motivate the reader to also take action.
3. Mix things up. Sometimes readers can get fed-up reading the same type of text over and over again. Use text boxes to draw attention to key messages.
4. Use cartoons and illustrations. Some audiences can be intimidated by materials that seem too serious or technical. A cartoon on the cover of the booklet can also draw the reader's interest to read what is inside and indicate to the reader that the contents in the booklet are not too technical. Visuals also emphasize key messages while entertaining and creating excitement in the process of communication.
5. Keep the information coming. Booklets in nature are short and intended to give the reader a general idea of the topic being discussed. However, many topics are complex and vast. It is always good to have a page or two at the end offering sources of more information so the reader can learn more.

“It is possible, with the right baseline knowledge, for civic actors to impact the legislative process and fiscal regime governing extractives,” says Kilonzo. “Coalitions do not have to be large in number. A small but strategic and well-coordinated group can have impact. How you package your message to parliamentarians is important. Be concise, stick to the core message, arm yourself with evidence and join forces with the media to garner support from the public.”

Carolyn Bielfeldt is RWI Communications Coordinator.

Post new comment